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The Massachusetts Lifespan Respite Coalition, in collaboration with the ARCH National Respite Network, will host the 2013 National Lifespan Respite Conference in Boston, MA on October 15-17, 2013. The theme for the conference is The Freedom Trail to Respite, reflecting the great historical backdrop of the beautiful city of Boston and acknowledging the significant role respite can play in providing improved quality of life for the nation’s family caregivers

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This conference is intended for everyone who supports family members and family caregivers of individuals across all ages throughout the Lifespan. Anyone who is affected by Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, ALS, Autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, HIV, AIDS, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental illness and behavioral health issues, or any other disabling or chronic condition has a stake in this significant issue. Families or providers of military wounded soldiers or veterans, kinship caregivers or providers, and those working with families at risk of abuse or neglect will also have much to gain from attending this conference. The audience will include family caregivers, persons with disabilities, older adults, parents, grandparents, guardians, respite providers, social workers, case managers, program managers, nurses, researchers, advocates, direct support staff, teachers, leaders of faithbased organizations, policy makers, and other community leaders.

 

Without a doubt, respite care for family caregivers is an issue that crosses the lifespan.  An estimated 65.7 people in the US serve as unpaid family caregivers to an adult or child.  Currently more than half of care recipients (56%) are under age 75, and almost one-third (28%) are under age 50.  In addition, many family caregivers are in the sandwich generation—46% of women who are caregivers of an aging family member and 40% of men also have children under the age of 18 at home.  The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $450 billion in 2009.  This amount is more than total Medicaid spending in 2009, and as much as the total sales of the world’s largest companies, including Wal-Mart and the three largest publicly held auto companies combined. Including caregiving for children with special needs in the total would add 4 to 8 million additional caregivers and another $50 to $100 billion to the economic value of family caregiving. 

 

Other than financial assistance for caregiving through direct vouchers payments or tax credits, respite is the number one national policy related to service delivery that family caregivers prefer.  However, nearly 90% of family caregivers caring for someone over the age of 18 do not use respite services. Among family caregivers of children under 18, 81% do not use respite.

 

The National Lifespan Respite Conference is the only conference in the country which specifically focuses on the issue of respite care.  We expect wide attendance from State Respite Coalitions from across the country as well as a range of other professionals and caregivers. 

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